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I woke to the pitter patter of rain on a still ocean. Warm and dry in my bunk I wonder where I will be when the fall winds blow. Three years ago I had a plan, a crew member and one small dream, to round the Horn.
When I started my boat search the possibilities were endless. The new boat would have to be affordable, not just to purchase but to operate. I had recently read a survey that said in the Pacific Northwest during the summer season on any given day between 95 and 97 percent of boats were at the dock. I couldn’t imagine living in the most beautiful place on earth and having my boat tied to the dock. The more I looked the more boats I scratched off my list. The final three boats to make the cut were the Vertue 25, Dana 24 and Falmouth Cutter 22. The Nor’sea 27 came very close, but her tiny galley had my sailing partner less than enthusiastic.
As my search for the perfect boat continued I would soon learn that I would also have to be patient in my search for the perfect sailing mate. We all have dreams and desires and while I had the perfect partner, she wasn’t the perfect sailing partner. Still attached to the real world and the security of an easy life we went our separate ways both pursuing our own personal Mt Everest.
I have always loved the Vertue 25 and her stout beautiful lines but in the states they are few and far between so I reluctantly crossed this beauty off my list.
The Dana 24 has always been a boat close to my heart and I went as far as writing on offer on a beautiful one but on the sea trial her incredibly complex rig had me second guessing my decision. I backed out of the offer then was persuaded to do a second sea trial and again overwhelmed with the complexity of the boat and all her lines running aft, lazy jacks and full batten main. I decided that someday I would own one of these beautiful boats but not until I hit my sixties. I’m young, strong and love at the actual act of sailing, raising and lowering sails, working at the mast and maneuvering all over the boat in all forms of weather.
Within a month of making my decision that the Lyle Hess Falmouth Cutter was the only boat for me I had found my girl. I was living aboard her in the boatyard atop a huge pile of sailing gear, my new little home was in a thousand pieces. I sorted through and inspected every single piece of gear, if it wasn’t up to the Horn it was sold, recycled to bartered away. I had the foundation of my dreams, a failing relationship and a bank account filled with many red zeros. I was also free as a bird, Sookie slowly became a work of art. Every new addition had to be Horn approved and usually custom cast or fabricated. The work goes on, this little sailing yacht is Horn approved but am I.
Three precious years have slipped away. Today I am a statistic, sitting in one of the most beautiful places on earth but there is no wind for my sails. A surfer can’t surf when there are no waves, a skier can’t ski when there is no snow and a sailor can’t sail when there is no wind. Staring down the barrel of 46 I was recently reminded that I am middle aged. They say the mind never ages and while I feel the toll of the passing years taking over, my dreams have not changed and I have not changed. The dream remains the same, while I may have taken a short respite from the salty freedom of the wind and sea life continues and this polar shift feels right. This is a time for filling the Kitty, doing dockside chores and many many long walks with the dog. I can easily see how someday soon cold wet and a thousand miles from shore I may question the sanity of leaving one paradise in search of another. I ran into an old friend yesterday fresh in from South America and he handed me my old copy of My Old Man And The Sea. Today is a good day to be an arm chair sailor, to live vicariously through another and appreciate all that life had given me.
If you really feel that you don’t want to leave your cockpit, maybe you should stay on your couch.
– Larry Pardey